Immigrant Rights News - Monday, September 08, 2008
Immigrant Rights News – Monday, September 08, 2008
IRN and other NNIRR posts are available at www.nnirr.blogspot.com
2. Frontera NorteSur: “The Border Wall Chronicles”
Bond Help Heartens Immigrants
Workplace Raids' Frequency Propels Fundraising Effort
By N.C. Aizenman
Sunday, September 7, 2008; A03
"I just told [their lawyers], 'You know, if you ever need bond money for someone, let me know,' " the 57-year-old multimillionaire recalled during an interview. "I was just following my nose on this. . . . I had no idea of the scale of what I was getting into."
Within a matter of weeks, Hildreth had posted bond for 40 detainees, contributing $116,800 of his own money and launching the pilot version of a national bond assistance program immigrant advocates hope will prove the linchpin of an emerging strategy to counter the recent increase in government workplace raids, including the arrest of nearly 600 workers at a manufacturing plant in Laurel, Miss., on Aug. 25.
Already, the National Immigrant Bond Fund has attracted more than $300,000 in contributions and helped bail out nearly 90 immigrants detained in six worksite raids, including 10 of the 46 workers detained during a raid on a painting company in
Days before the
"This is exactly what we hoped the fund would do," said Paromita Shah, associate director of the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild and a member of the bond fund's steering committee. "I don't see this as bringing about the end of these raids, but I'm optimistic that the fund is going to make a difference for a lot of people."
Although workplace arrests bring in only a fraction of the nation's estimated 8 million illegal immigrant workers, they have risen sharply in recent months, growing from 510 in 2002 to nearly 5,000 a year.
Unlike defendants in the criminal justice system, foreigners facing deportation in immigration court do not have a right to a government-provided attorney if they cannot pay for their own. And when they are moved to remote holding facilities far from their families, it is more difficult for them to find attorneys, advocates contend. Without access to legal advice, immigrants often have a tough time determining if they have a viable defense against deportation, let alone collecting the evidence needed to present their case. So many simply agree to deportation.
The bond fund aims to change that pattern by offering to pay up to half of an immigrant's bond, increasing the number who can afford bail while insuring the immigrant has a financial incentive to show up in court. Those awaiting a deportation hearing are generally eligible for release on bond if they have no criminal convictions, were not previously ordered deported and can convince a homeland security official or an immigration judge that they pose no danger to national security or the community and are not a flight risk, which they often demonstrate by providing evidence of long-standing community ties through their children, spouses and other relatives.
Raising enough cash to keep up with the spike in workplace raids could be challenging, advocates say.
"The decision to grant bond and the amount of the bond that is set seems to follow a wildly arbitrary process that totally differs from one judge to another," said Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum and another member of the bond fund committee. "I've seen everything from $2,000 to $24,000 bonds for essentially the same circumstances."
Three Guatemalan brothers who were arrested in June's raid on the
All three said they send most of their earnings back to family in
As it was, Obdulio, 37, who is self-employed as a house painter and has a wife and U.S.-born daughter, used up his entire rainy-day fund, which he saves over the summer to cover his mortgage and other bills during the winter season, when jobs are scarce.
"Honestly, I don't know how I'm going to survive this December," Obdulio said during an interview at the kitchen table of his ranch house in an
Sergio and Hugo, who share Obdulio's burly build and reserved demeanor, listened with a mixture of guilt and gratitude. If they hadn't been able to bond out, Hugo said, they would almost certainly have agreed to deportation rather than trying to contest their case from detention.
"It's hard to explain how terrible it felt to be locked up in that tiny, hot room, with just a bed and a metal toilet," he said. "You lose all hope. You just feel despair."
It remains to be seen whether the bond fund will ultimately help such immigrants gain anything beyond a few extra months to get their affairs in order before they are ordered deported. Several of the Guatemalans picked up in
Still, the number of people likely to qualify for each type of relief is probably low, said Mark Krikorian, of the Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank that favors limits on immigration. And he said this suggests that the true goal of the bond fund is to "lawyer up illegal immigrants" and "obstruct enforcement of immigration law until Congress passes an amnesty."
"If the anti-enforcement folks are successful in tying up enough of these hearings, then it will become impossible to do enforcement," he said.
September 5, 2008
The Border Wall Chronicles
By the third day of the Labor Day weekend march against the Department of Homeland Security’s border wall, protestors’ feet were feeling the long miles from
“Nobody said that the walk for justice was going to be a nice one,” Perez said, “so we’ ll keep on walking until we meet our objective, which is to destroy the wall before it is built.
An urgent tone energized the slogans, chants and songs that Perez and other marchers voiced. As the march was unfolding, crews were busy at work along the
In his ruling, Judge Montalvo concluded that the plaintiffs failed to prove their case that Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff’s waiver of more than 30 federal environmental and other laws last April “outweighs the public’s interest in securing its borders.”
Anti- border wall protestors on the August 28-31 march were adamant against building a new wall anywhere on the border. They cited human rights, environmental, economic and other reasons for opposing the project. Many opponents contend the barrier will force desperate migrants from
Although opposition to the wall is widespread in the borderlands, the federal project counts its share of local supporters. On September 1, an unscientific, online poll conducted by the El Paso Times showed 2400 respondents evenly split on the question of whether the city’s Public Service Board should have leased land for the wall. Proponents of a new fence argue it is necessary to control illegal immigration, curb drug trafficking and other crimes and deter terrorists.
Taking a Stand in San Elizario
Parading through the outskirts of semi-rural San Elizario, the group of about thirty marchers passed single-family homes, trailers and yards with farm animals. Border Patrol vehicles darted in and out of side streets.
Halting at an irrigation canal almost on the US-Mexico border, the march paused to hear speakers. A portable Border Patrol observation tower equipped with a camera that one woman compared to a “deer (hunting) stand” faced the impromptu protest.
Eustolia Olivas introduced herself as a relative and neighbor of former Mexican guestworkers known as braceros. An activist with the Bracero Project, an El Paso-based organization seeking justice for the elderly former contract laborers and their families, Olivas chronicled the role of Mexican and Chicano workers in building up the
“We’re trying to gain recognition as human beings from them,” Olivas said. “We came to work. We didn’t come to set off explosions in buildings or on bridges. We’re not that kind of people..”
Several residents, including a group of men on horseback marchers invited to join them, spontaneously approached and applauded the demonstration on the canal bank. Later, as the group marched into the center of San Elizario to the welcoming beat of Aztec drummers and dancers, the men on horseback were now the rear guard of the march, carrying anti-border wall signs.
San Elizario was perhaps an appropriate place for a protest that embraces questions of land, freedom of movement and differing cultural visions. A local museum exhibits how the fertile lands that still sprout cotton here and there have been contested territory for hundreds of years in battles involving Spaniards, Apaches, Mexicans and Anglo-Americans. San Elizario was the scene of the famous 1877 Salt War, a conflict which erupted over attempts by Anglo businessman Charles Howard to gain control of salt lakes Spanish-speaking locals long considered communal property.
Today, San Elizario is still contested space.
Hands Through the Fence
From San Elizario, the march halted in
Picking up the protest pace the next day, the group stopped in Ysleta del Sur
The final act was a binational rally at the border between
More than 100 people turned out, including Anapra residents who remembered once freely moving back and forth across the border. At this spot, the Roman Catholic bishops of
Nowadays, a metal fence constructed during the
“Now we have the scandal of the fence right up underneath that symbol of unity on top of the mountain,” Father Hinde sighed. “I don’t know when we’re going to learn that our best security is creating friendship instead of creating insecurity through antagonism that is created by a fence.”
In an interview with Frontera Norte Sur,
“This era will be viewed as a dark passage in American history, and I hope we have the leaders at the national, state and local level that will stand up and fix this in generations to come,” Senator Shapleigh said. “We need to take this wall down. We need to do the right thing by our relationship with
In March 2008, Senator Shapleigh sent a letter to Homeland Secretary Michael Chertoff. Citing a US Congressional Research Service estimate of a $49 billion price tag for building and maintaining the wall, the El Paso Democrat insisted much cheaper means, including smart technology, are available to control the border.
In his letter, Senator Shapleigh wrote that “history has shown that anti-immigration sentiment almost always follows a threat to national security.” Nonetheless, he continued, “despite the fact that none of the 9/11 terrorists have arrived in the
Referring to criticism of the project from world figures such as former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, Senator Shapleigh warned Secretary Chertoff of the diplomatic consequences of the border wall.
“Already in churches and homes from
The Border Wall Heats Up Cyberspace
Reported in the regional media, news of the march and the border wall set off renewed polemics in cyberspace over questions of national security, immigration and race. In particular, the El Paso Times was the repository of many sharp comments.
An e-mail from a person identified as “Mother” from
“If this fence would have been put up a long time ago, my son would still be alive,” read the message. “He was killed by a drug trafficker trying to get back to
Many e-mails were from out-of-state. Read one message: “The fence is needed. Illegal immigrants stress so much of our society, from the free education they receive, the free lunches, free health care, the list goes on. Build the fence higher.”
Another cyber writer suggested that the new wall should be electrified with observation towers protected by numerous guards armed with “REAL not rubber bullets.”
More than a few messages carried racial overtones, featuring insults like “nasty Mexicans.”
Although work proceeds to finish the border wall before the end of the year, debate is certain to intensify in the days ahead. El Paso-area opponents, as well as their allies in other sections of the border, plan more actions in a last-ditch effort to stop the wall before it is finished.
Frontera NorteSur (FNS): on-line, U.S.-Mexico border
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Los Angeles Times
A darker state economy sends day laborers packing
With more competing for fewer jobs, some immigrant workers are returning home.
By Anna Gorman
September 1, 2008
For more than two years, Otoniel Lopez Cortez arrived at the
But after four months with only one day of work, Lopez made the decision last month to return to his native country.
"I don't want to go back, but there is no work," said Lopez, 18. "It's better to be with my family, even though we don't have much."
With the ongoing economic downturn and the collapse of the construction industry, day laborers in
Many unemployed construction workers, including citizens and legal residents, have turned to hiring halls for work, creating more competition for daily jobs, said Abel Valenzuela, a UCLA professor who has researched day laborers across the nation. There are also fewer jobs available for dayworkers, as Californians have less disposable income for moving, remodeling, painting and landscaping.
In fact, Valenzuela said, anecdotal evidence shows that only about 10% to 15% of workers get hired daily, down from about 40% a few years ago.
On Lopez's last day, 58 workers showed up at the
"Things are really drying up," prompting dayworkers to start thinking about alternatives, Valenzuela said. "One of them is, clearly, to leave the
The economy, along with increased border enforcement, may also be discouraging some migrants from coming to the
Lopez said he sneaked across the border in 2006 for the same reason as most illegal immigrants: to make a better life for himself and to earn money for his family. He also wanted to get away from the gang life that had consumed much of his youth. He came to
After deciding to leave, he sought help at the Guatemalan Consulate, which gave him a bus ticket home. He cleaned out the room he had rented for $250 and packed his clothes, Bible, English notebooks and soccer trophy. He called his mother, who had been sick and wanted him to return.
On Aug. 22, the hiring hall, run by the Central American Resource Center, held a farewell lunch of ceviche, rice and cake for Lopez. The other workers applauded for Lopez as director Jeronimo Salguero hugged him and presented him with a certificate honoring his work and time at the center.
Salguero said Lopez's departure was sad but not surprising. Given the choice between suffering in your own country or in another, he said, you might as well eat beans and be with your family.
Last Sunday, Lopez boarded a bus bound for
The decision to leave is not an easy one. Most undocumented immigrants pay thousands of dollars and risk dangerous journeys to get to the
Another worker at the center, Jose Morales, 38, said he also wanted to return to
"Now I am seeing with my own eyes that here is the same as my country," he said.
Manuel Barajas, 44, a dayworker who has worked just a few days in five months and lives with his sister, said he wouldn't have left his electrician job in
"It's been a bad year," Barajas said.
His pregnant wife and their year-old child are still in
Wayne Cornelius, director of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at UC San Diego, said his research shows that migrants who have been here for more than one year and had close relatives living with them "intended to ride out the recession." But he said single men are a different story.
"For unattached males with no economic base in the
Many of those who stay in the
The decrease in jobs and increase in workers have caused desperation among some day laborers, but returning home won't solve their financial problems, said Pablo Alvarado, head of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.
"Even if you work once a week for a full day, that's $60 if you get the minimum wage," he said. "That is way above what you make sometimes in a month in your homeland."
Rick Oltman of Californians for Population Stabilization said the fact that some immigrants were returning home as a result of the declining economy showed that a lack of jobs could be a deterrent.
"Until they cut off the employment magnet, they are not serious about enforcement," Oltman said. "The economy is giving us an example of how it would work."
Democrats to Immigrants: "Get Right with the Law"
Republicans Echo Immigration Restrictionists
[Both by] Tom Barry | September 5, 2008
By Rachel Olivieri, AlterNet
Posted on September 4, 2008, Printed on September 8, 2008
There is no landmass on Earth quite like
The incomprehensible vulnerability of California's over-reaching population centers (Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose), the projected urban expansion of the Central Valley, and the weight of climate-warming models leaves one haunted by civilization's lack of respect for a river's entitlement to its water and the food systems that it naturally perpetuates.
There's only so much natural wealth covering the 158,302 square miles of
With 200 million acre-feet (MAF) of average precipitation spreading over 100 million acres containing 450 known groundwater basins and draining on average 71 MAF of runoff through 20,000 miles of rivers and streams, California has only 1,900 river miles legally protected from dams and diversions. All but one major river remains dam-free, the
About 42 MAF of the state's runoff is captured and diverted through six major systems of reservoirs and aqueducts. This massive infrastructure artificially waters the coastal region from the
Before the Spanish arrived in 1769, there were only twelve large natural lakes in
These numerous artificial lakes defy the balance between natural surface water stores and underground stores. In nature, 70 percent of the fresh water circulating in the hydrologic cycle is stored underground and a combined total of .017 percent for lakes, rivers, and land-locked seas. Underground storage is free from evaporation, siltation, and storage cost (both economically and environmentally).
Before European contact, underground glacial water stores were estimated at 1.3 billion acre-feet -- the entire
Five million acres of
Ninety percent of the coastal salt marshes between
The Delta is not on the verge of collapse, it is collapsing. Once supporting 345,000 acres of salt marshes and a major fishery for salmon and smelt, it has been reduced to 8,000 marsh acres, with Delta pumps decimating the fisheries. With valuable marshes reclaimed as islands below sea level, they are protected by a series of poorly maintained and aging levee systems vulnerable to earthquakes, storms, and climate change.
Historic flows from the Delta to the Bay have been reduced by half, increasing saltwater intrusion into the freshwater system. (Normally freshwater flows from the Sierra snowpack create a hydraulic barrier holding back intruding salt water.)
Salmon are the keystone species, the proverbial canary in the coal mine. Untold millions, perhaps ten-plus million salmon, once migrated between
Think about what the salmon represent in total natural energy distribution and conversion -- as an energy component, their nourishing value to the sea, the land, the aquatic and terrestrial food chains, and human life.
Once 400 million strong throughout North America, beavers once populated all the tributaries of
Downed trees fill with insects and feed woodpeckers and sapsuckers. The increased wet area around the beaver pond absorbs flood waves and slowly infiltrates water into the groundwater table. When the building materials deplete, the beavers move on to another location. The dam, filled high with rich, black organic muck, breaks down, causing the water to change course and meander around. As the area dries it becomes a rich pasture of grasses, feeding herbivores which feed predators. The meadow, recolonized by the seeds of the trees that initiated the process, begins anew. Multiply this lifecycle by 13,000 years and you have the continual development of fertile valley bottomlands and a regenerative model for human developments.
Without considering global warming, a century from now all man-made reservoirs that are not full of silt will nonetheless have lost their operational capacities to support agriculture, prevent floods, and serve human population centers. The moment they were filled, the concrete's limited lifespan began its 50- to 100-year process of degeneration. Where's the future?
This narrative represents a very short list of human events upon the landscape. The visible consequence of
In stark contrast, civilization consumes nature, converting its energy in a way that exhausts its supply, and then we return the waste with a toxic aspect that further devalues the natural systems -- leading to air, soil, and water pollution, depleted fisheries, constipated rivers, ocean dead zones, deforestation, erosion, salinated valleys, overgrazing, wildlife extinction, toxic dumps, nuclear waste, and yes, global warming.
One can readily see that
The Waters of Change
As a consequence of natural evolution, the Earth's surface has adapted to the sun's radiant heat through a renewable hydrologic cycle. How a warming climate relates to the hydrologic cycle is the subject of the following discussion.
There is a high degree of scientific agreement that our planetary energy use relates directly to climbing temperatures. Current climate models are constantly readapting to temperature changes that are occurring much more rapidly than expected due to the climate feedback systems and non-linear movements. The climate system is the hydrologic cycle, and to the extent that model changes, so change rainfall and snow patterns across the state.
Today cold, moisture-laden westerly storms roll off the
The storms' real contender is the west-tilting, 400-mile granite spine of the
On the eastern or rain-shadow side of the Sierra is a long narrow trench known as the
Seventy-five percent of
This 20th-century hydrologic model laid the foundation for the infrastructure of 1,400 dams and reservoir systems providing water storage and flood protection for
The greatest challenge for water managers in today's weather system is timing the flows from the Sierra snowmelt. A dicey business without climate change considerations, we're talking about 15 million acre-feet (MAF) of runoff before it hits the first series of dams, and 20 or more MAF at or near the confluence of the Delta. The 20th-century model could anticipate gradual runoff in late spring and early summer to meet the greatest demand between summer and fall. These reservoirs have to be relatively empty in the winter for flood protection. Managers have to decide when to fill the reservoir to meet the greater demands of the dry season. Fill them too early and you risk floods; fill them too late and you risk insufficient supplies and drought conditions.
Climate models show the Sierra snowline climbing upward. As the landmass heats, it requires a greater volume of water to resolve the heat, and a warmer atmosphere holds more moisture, producing more intense rainfall and resulting in less snow, earlier and greater mass movements of flows, and erosion. Snowfall that would normally inundate the Sierra throughout the winter and gradually melt between late spring and early summer will come as intense wet storms, generating massive flows and torrential flooding throughout the lower watersheds. This will alter rivers, creeks, and stream channel profiles significantly and cripple the Bay Delta as a freshwater supply for the southland as water is lost to massive runoff and not stored and released slowly as snow.
Incidence of landslides will greatly increase the sediment budget, and some landslides will create slidedams and cause a river or creek to change course, incising fresh sediment loads from alluvial plains. The large recipient of these massive, sediment-laden flows will be the mega-million acre-feet reservoirs of the State Water and
These large events will also decrease the ability of the land to slow and infiltrate water into the groundwater system, and the higher temperatures will increase evaporation. Droughts and higher temperatures will increase the incidence of forest and grassland fires. Reduced reservoir water storage will increase groundwater pumping and land subsidence in the already overdrafted, oversubsided
Outlet Creek, a Willits tributary of the Eel, has six dams with the seventh being built, all within a sixty-square-mile area. The ecology of Little Lake Valley and the former Little Lake, food basin for juvenile salmon, has been destroyed by straightening and channeling the six feeder creeks. With Snow,
Where do we go from here?
The recent federal court decision to reduce water withdrawals from the irreplaceable Delta by 37 percent in an attempt to save its failing hydrology and fisheries has staggered farm production, cities, and the
Governor Schwarzenegger's proposed 9 billion dollar Delta bailout (1982
The big question remains. Will a canal bypass save the Delta? Answer: No. As mentioned earlier, what the Delta needs most is increased mountain runoff water to create the hydrologic barrier to hold back saltwater intrusion from the Bay and the fisheries need inundated wetlands and sloughs.
Since our economic system cannot consider limitations because our American way of life is non-negotiable, narrow-visioned, economic growth focused policy makers will commit our remaining economic might and push this unsustainable model against the right wall of limitations unwittingly. In this context, it is difficult to envision a divergent path that recognizes the need to reduce population, consumption, and charts a path towards watershed restoration statewide. Californians will, as they have throughout
The final analysis strongly suggests that the geophysical forces of climate change dynamics, watershed-wide ecological degradation, oversold and over-mined watersheds, overextended economy and overpopulation coupled with the limited lifespan of 1,400 dams will likely, eventually, resolve the issue of overextended coastal populations and ill-conceived floodplain developments once and for all.
The real solution, backing off the right wall, reducing and relocating vulnerable population centers, reducing consumer demand, developing local water sustainability, and restoring watersheds is simply unthinkable -- and the unthinkable is the only solution - and real solutions are not found when one cannot even define the problem.
Rachel Olivieri is an independent researcher and writer from Willits,
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